7 Steps to SMB Social Nirvana

When the team at The Social XChange pitches a client on how our company can help them successfully navigate the world of Social – the first question they skeptically ask is “why should we hire you?”  Now for anyone that has sold anything or attempted to win new clients, this is GO time.

To effectively close the deal you have to be ready with your best stuff – highlighting the processes used to construct a unique strategy for development, implementation and management of their Social presence.

Communicating the bottom line cost to the customer is also important, but we have found that smart business owners know if an easy to understand process is in place, the chances for success increase and they are less skeptical and more receptive to your services.

We have encountered quite a few small and medium businesses who truly want to believe they can handle everything “in house”.  In some cases this may be true, especially if the owner(s) are tech savvy or have prior marketing experience.  However, time is money and adding the equivalent of another 20-40 hours to their work week can be a game changer.

In order to quickly demonstrate the benefits of working with our team, we put together the “7 Steps to SMB Social Nirvana”.  The process has been specifically designed not only get a company off the ground but provide a road map for short and long-term ROI.

#1 – Define goals, benchmarks and direction.  The company needs a plan for who will update content, how much time will be spent on Social and how much new and repeat business can be generated from a formal strategy.  As for direction, do they want to generate leads, develop the company brand, improve customer service or simply provide information to customers?

#2 – Setup Social sites.  The Social XChange believes that companies should start with just a few sites – Facebook is an excellent first choice, Google + is another.  This will help “get their feet wet” in the short-term.  A dedicated website would come next, with Twitter, Pinterest, Linked In and other social sites to follow.  Less is more so a company does not get overwhelmed at the outset.

#3 – Develop a Social Calendar.  The successful business owner knows that planning ahead is critical to keeping their company profitable for the long-term.  Creating a Social calendar will help coordinate sales, holidays and special events with Social.  There are many excellent “ready to use” templates on the web – visit Social Media Today, Social Media Examiner or simply search for the best fit.

#4 – Own GEO.  If the company has a physical address that customers visit, GEO is normally already setup and simply needs to be owned and managed.  Facebook and Google places, as well as Foursquare can help get your business or location onto News Feeds when customer (or employees) “check in”.  Ensure each service is contacted to set up the “official” sites.

#5 – Monitor and manage consumer review pages.  Sites such as Yelp, City Advisor, Angie’s List and review pages from Google +, MSN and Yahoo are where your customers go to give a thumbs up or down, along with a detailed account of their experience.  You can own your “official” sites too – in order to respond to or assist customers who have had a poor experience.  Don’t forget your local BBB pages.

#6 – Publicize your Social Channels.  If you have a web presence, customers can find you simply by doing a quick browser search.  However, the key is to encourage engagement by creating a bond with everyone that comes through your door.  Signage, business cards, even flyers and receipts with Facebook, Google + or other social logos will prompt visits to your sites on the web.

#7 – Listen and Analyze.  There are some excellent tools available to monitor the web for mentions of the business, free Google Alerts can be an excellent first step.  In addition, there are tons of free and paid tools available to manage, measure and analyze your web presence and its effectiveness. Click here for an excellent article from Social Media Today on the Top 50 Tools.

So there you have it, the 7 step process used by The Social XChange to help small and medium businesses succeed with Social.  Explaining these methods will give the business owner a greater appreciation of the effort required and demonstrates how a cohesive strategy will create a competitive advantage for the company.

Short, simple, easy to understand – and an effective way to answer the question “why should we hire you?” and move the conversation to “when can you start”?

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Customer Service vs. Customer Recovery

One of the topics that The Social XChange is exploring in greater depth with Social 3.0 is the difference between customer service and customer recovery.

What is the difference you may ask? For companies such as ZapposSouthwest Airlines, and State Farm, customer service begins with the first sale or interaction and they gain and retain a customer with that initial experience.

In other words, if you get the initial transaction wrong (billing issue, defective product, or a bad internal process) then the client may have to call back, write or chat on your website, use self-service, or post to Social sites in order to have their situation corrected.  This creates a “customer recovery” opportunity.  You broke it, you fix it, but this effort may not save the long term customer relationship and certainly increases customer frustration.

Unfortunately, this is the way most customer facing centers are built – for recovery.  The alliance of FSM (Finance, Sales and Marketing) has long believed that customer service is a “cost center“, built to deliver “world class” customer care by fixing what went wrong on the front end of the transaction while increasing customer satisfaction and retention.

With every new product, price or process put in place, FSM calculates “breakage”.  Breakage, by definition, is the amount of customers affected by a defective, wrong or incompatible product, a price increase or simply a new internal process that benefits the company at the expense of the customer.   The number of people who will leave due to breakage and the number of people that customer facing agents “save” are also calculated.

In most cases, the focus for FSM is squarely on recovery – so it begs the question “how does this increase customer satisfaction?” Eventually, many customers will uncover the fact that they are not receiving “customer service”.

So therein lies the disconnect between customer service and customer recovery.  Unless the emphasis is to fix processes which cause “breakage” on the front end, a company will not be able to truly be known as “world class”.  All companies make mistakes and a flexible “recovery” plan is vital, but it should not be the focus of ones efforts.  Understanding the difference between service and recovery is critical, especially when a company gets only one chance to make it right.